Monday, February 5, 2024


I "met" Jenny Li Fowler on Twitter (now X) a few years back. Fast forward to the present. The covid happened, of course, I had to mention that since the pandemic impacted life for all individuals and marketing communications for all brands. Jenny appeared on my blog in a Q&A in April 2022, and recently, she became a published author. Jenny's commentary is always enlightening, so when I heard about her new book, I knew I had to read it. But first, a few words about social media.

In many of my previous roles as marketing manager, marketing director, and marketing consultant, I've also served double-duty as social media manager for nonprofits, large for-profit companies, and emerging brands. While responsible for social media posts, I have been the voice of strategy for my brands, meaning that I have always explained to senior leadership teams, boards of directors, and sales teams that the voice for all posts must be consistent with the brand, the theme of the posts must be consistent with all other marketing messaging, and above all, a social media strategy must be in alignment with the overall brand marketing plan.

With that in mind, what social media posts or campaigns stand out? To me, the most memorable posts took place during the Super Bowl on February 4, 2013, when there was a power outage at the beginning of the game's third quarter. The following Tweets, that appeared on Twitter, were posted soon after the power went off and demonstrated that these social media teams understood social media, marketing, and their brand positioning:

Power out? No problem. [Photo: You can still dunk in the dark.]

Hey dome operators at the Big Game, there are a few Lowe’s nearby if you need some generators.

This might be a good time to think about alternative programing. #SuperBowlBlackOut

Now, let's talk about Jenny Li Fowler's book, ORGANIC SOCIAL MEDIA - HOW TO BUILD FLOURISHING ONLINE COMMUNITIES. First, a little about Jenny Li Fowler. She is the director of social media strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is in charge of developing and executing Institute-wide social media initiatives and campaigns. She provides social media consultation and direction for more than 200 departments, labs, and centers; and manages the Institute’s flagship Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.

Jenny explained in the book's preface, "This book is for both rookie social media managers as well as seasoned social media professionals. It gives new managers a structure to build a social media strategy and tips to succeed in the position, and veteran professionals a unique perspective on navigating the challenges of the job and steps to advance the position."

Here were (what I considered to be) the stand-out questions posed by and written by Jenny:

What's the difference between strategy and tactics?

Why should your brand define your lane?

What are some reasons that people follow social media accounts?

What are Jenny's "Six M's of Social Media?"

Is your audience currently on that new platform?

Listening is a form of engagement.

Always explain the WHY behind your brand.

Don't plan content too far in advance.

Do you conduct a competitive analysis of your competitors' social platforms?

Since every member of the C-Suite wants to talk about metrics, Jenny wrote, "Numbers can't speak for themselves; it's the stories we build around them that are compelling or misleading...Just because a metric is large doesn't necessarily mean it's impressive or positive. The opposite is also true - just because a number is small doesn't mean it's not impressive."

An important section of the book explained the many roles comprising a social media team - since these roles are no longer performed by only one person: "Director of strategy; Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn specialist; writer; photographer; videographer; graphic designer; animator; and data scientist."

And Jenny reminded readers that when mainstream news stories become the buzz on social media, before your brand enters the discussion, ask yourself these important questions. If not, your brand may find itself in an unexpected crisis:
(1) Does it fit your brand's voice or tone?
(2) Does this content support your social media strategy?
(3) Have you posted similar content before? If yes, how did it perform?
(4) Is it related to your brand or organization in any way? Is it a stretch?

SHARE THIS: Good content will always attract an audience. Content that entertains, is relatable, or adds value. ~@TheJennyLi #SocialMediaTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

SHARE THIS: Social media is not always the most effective mode of communication for the audience you're targeting. ~@TheJennyLi #SocialMediaTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

SHARE THIS: Social media is not a one-size-fits-all communication tool. ~@TheJennyLi #SocialMediaTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Jenny ended her book, "As long as social media exists, there will be a need for people to manage it and, like all professions, it will evolve...It will be interesting to see what social managers go on to do. There have been a lot of articles written on how social media managers are the next CMOs, but I think there are also many opportunities for social media strategists in the internal and strategic communications space."

Two points that Jenny discussed toward the end of the book have remained with me because they have dramatically changed the world of social media. When I added social media marketing to my resume in 2009 (by creating personal accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a blog on Google's Blogger before working on accounts as part of my professional marketing roles), I can personally say that these two issues were not part of the social media landscape. However, fast forward to today, and it seems that everywhere you look, there is hate-speak, trolls, bullies, and misinformation. In addition, when HR professionals promote "work-life balance," they are definitely NOT talking about the lives of people who work in social media. The Internet never sleeps, and the news cycle is 24/7/365.

What do you think? Is a social media manager who lives and breathes a brand's promise and handles its digital communications ripe for becoming a future Chief Marketing Officer? Or, is the person in this role destined for a lifetime of brief posts on Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? The future of any social media manager is defined by what he/she/they achieve/s for their brand - and the tools found in Jenny Li Fowler's book will, without a doubt, assist in the individual's success. My advice: read the book and be inspired!

Read Jenny's Q&A on this blog (April 11, 2022):
Social Media Campaigns and Storytelling

Connect with Jenny at these links:
Twitter/X: @TheJennyLi

Image Credit: Amazon.

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